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Old 11-12-2002, 10:13 PM   #1
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Transparent - chapter 2 (completed)

The darkness surrounded him like a cowl. The smoke from his cigarette streamed up to the rag top and filled the car's interior. It had been an odd evening's drive to Sydney's. The sky had been dramatic as the sun had set but during the twenty minute drive to the suburbs the ceiling of clouds had swept down and released a torrent. Even now the windshield was slick with the last of the rain. He sat in the parking lot of the Springfield United Methodist Church, waiting for his appointment and smoking. He always thought it ironic to visit Sydney here. Jewish by birth, Sydney had studied and mastered in psychology at Duke. He met his beautiful wife at a local Durham bar. She had been attending a nearby school in training to be a missionary for the UMC. After graduation he developed a fine practice in Boston, threw it all away to convert and become a missionary just to be with her. Reverend Sydney. What a concept. He still offered counseling through the local PC&CC organization and so Jonah was here. He glanced down at his watch. In the light from the street lamp he could see it wink over to read 6:57. His excuse for sitting in the car was to allow himself the smoking time, but in his heart he knew smoking was a justification for being anti-social. The thought of sitting in the waiting room with anyone made him literally twitchy. He snubbed out his cigarette in the MG's full ashtray, opened the door, and sauntered into the church.

Sydney, welcomed Jonah with a hug. "Smoking again are we?" he waved at his nose.

"Yes mom," Jonah said as he dropped his overcoat on the back of the couch. He went to sit down and then, thought better of it. "I... I think I'm going to pace a little tonight."

Sydney looked up with a cocked eyebrow. "Okay," He knew Jonah well enough to read the signs. Smoking, projecting his mother on him, inability to sit still. Something had him seriously agitated. And what was more, he knew Jonah knew the signals he was throwing off as well. Over the years the two had developed this shorthand to cut through the BS. "Well, let's not dwell on pleasantries, what the hell has got you so twisted up."

Jonah walked to the bookshelf. His finger traced the binding of a Melody Beattie treatise on adult children of alcoholics. "I drank the better part of a fifth of scotch last night. I've been smoking... chain smoking mostly... since we switched over to daylight savings time, or back from...

"Back from." confirmed Sydney, "yeah?"

"Jerrie and I had a thing. She's ready to move on... without me. She thinks I've already moved on, " he pulled the book away from the rest on the shelf and leafed through it absent mindedly. "Maybe she's right."

"Moved on to what, another woman?"

Jonah laughed, "Yeah I guess moving on implies a destination, huh?"

"Maybe the word she's looking for is 'retreated'? I get the sense you're pulling away, " Sydney was trying to cut to the chase but he could see he couldn't press to hard. When a patient won't commit to sitting they were saying in effect 'I'm halfway out the door'. Even Jonah could be lost. It was a thought that chilled him for a moment. Jonah looked up in time to catch that momentary wave of concern in his old friend's face. He put the book back on the shelf and thoughtfully moved to the couch. He sat and looked at Sydney for quite a while.

"I don't know, " he admitted, "but it started with this girl..."
--

Last edited by masterofNone : 12-05-2002 at 04:23 PM.
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Old 11-14-2002, 06:23 PM   #2
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A brief encounter with a drunken old lady's handbag shown puffy and purple over Leah's left eye. Even now, laying in her mattress on the kitchen floor she could feel a mess of throbbing only a nice slab of sirloin could remedy. Slow to move, she crawled over to her fridgedaire, pulled the door open, and slid the gelid mass over her face. She groaned, half aware of the phone, ringing in her bedroom. A second ring snatched her attention and she went sprinting towards her bedroom door. Panic gave her pause as she put her free hand on the doorhandle. A third ring turned her hand as she stepped in the dark room.

The curtians were drawn, the walls were covered in black, and the room was shaded red. The room was shrouded in fear and presented the solution of complete isolation from the light of day. Leah's pupils expanded in the darkness of the room as she stepped toward the fourth ringing. She slid her hand over the reciever and picked it up to her ear, "Hello?"

Silence. "Hello?"

A soft, familiar voice at the other end of the phone emerged, "Leah?"

"Bebe?"

"Yes."

"Oh. Ummm...hi." Leah looked at the door on the other side of the empty room, the kitchen light casting a ribbon of white on the floor.

"Did you get my message?"

Leah nodded to the phone, looking for the voice to say she had. The wireless in hand, her eyes searching for the kitchen, she stumbled out of the room. "Uh, yeah. I did."

Silence. Leah winced. She was a terrible person, she knew she was. She cast her eyes to the floor, in a semi-anguish, half need to clear the air. "I'm sorry. I've wanted to call you. I really have. I...I just have no idea what to say."

"Hey, you wanna come over to the house? Derrick is out of town for the weekend, and mom and dad are in DC this week, as I'm sure you know. I'm watching Piper, making sure she doesn't get in any trouble."

Leah gaped. "Yeah. Okay...yeah. I'll be over in five. Although, I don't know if I can drive. I, uh...well, long story, but you wanna come and pick me up?"

"Sure. Let me put Piper out and I'll be there with the truck in five."

"You know the way?"

"Yeah. It's the Sherman's old house, right?"

"Yeah."

"I'll be over in five."

Leah smiled. "I'll be out front, just in case."

"'Kay, bye."

"See you in a few."

With that, Leah took the phone from her ear and clicked the "talk" button. She placed the reciever on the kitchen counter and spotted her keys. She staggered over to the bathroom and took a quick look in the mirror. Her hair was disheveled and the left side of her face was puffy and swollen around the tightly packed sirloin. "Oh God."

Last edited by beckstra : 11-15-2002 at 01:11 AM.
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Old 11-22-2002, 06:40 PM   #3
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He was halfway home when he heard it cut loose. The little MG had just turned onto route 9 in Brookline when the muffler, encouraged by a bump in the pavement, broke free from the exhaust pipe and began to produce the most beautiful shower of orange and yellow sparks. As he pulled onto the shoulder he imagined that he looked like Haleys comet from above. He stopped the car, opened his door carefully, and leaned down to see under the car. In the waxing and waning light from the passing headlights he could clearly see the fine lacework of rust that had once been steel pipe. Once, as a kid, he had fallen on a pipe like that, thin and brittle and powdery. He still had the scar above his eyebrow and he still remembered the tetanus shot. He leaned back into the car and closed the door. The racket was soothing in an odd way. KACHUGAGA-KACHUGAGA-KACHUGAGA. He lit a cigarette and drifted...


"Yeah, it started with this new patient. Leah Connolly. Nothing special about her, " he turned quizzically to Sydney, "I mean she's, I dunno, 22 maybe. A little goth queen with seperation anxiety, oedipal obsessions, standard young adult issues manifesting as some mild self abuse for the most part. She kind of spiralled into the beginnings of a heroin habit but she sought counseling, got clean after a very short needle career."

"Smart girl, " Sydney remarked.

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean it's a good idea to get treatment as soon as possible." Sydney looked curious, "What do you mean 'what do you mean?'?"

"I just thought... I thought you were being sarcastic. She IS a smart girl. Smart, creative, poetic... you know? She has this very pure poetic nature. And here she is sticking needles into her arm so she doesn't have to feel bad that she can't sit on daddy's lap anymore." Jonah was staring at the carpet at his feet as if he was trying to burn through them with laser vision."She should be well on her way to becoming the new millenium's Georgia O'keefe... I knew this girl once..."

Sydney heard something in Jonah's voice that haunted him. "A girl? When?"

"In college. 'L.'. L. Rogers. Linda Rogers. Five foot nothing, long blonde hair, pale blue eyes - almost transparent, transparent blue eyes. She was a painter, an artist. Man, I hadn't thought about her in, what? 20 years?" Jonah was misting over, drifting. "I called her L.. I thought she would be a great painter one day. We were looking at an art text together and saw a painting by Georgia O'keefe. caption read "Purple Petunia - G. O'Keefe." I decided then and there she should be L. Rogers. from then on. Before long that was what everyone called her. L.."

"Where you two...," Sydney hesitated to give Jonah a chance to fill in the blank.

"Intimate?" He emerged a bit from his revery. "No. We never were. She died. Our senior year she developed..., " he paused to wipe his eyes,"she developed double vision. Not side to side, but top to bottom. Turned out to be MS. Bythat time we had drifted apart. She had a boyfriend that I didn't like... he didn't like me. I went on to my life and she to hers. I found out she died a while ago. far as I know they still called her L. to the day she died"

Sydney looked down at his pad of paper. "In some cultures names have strong magic. It's significant that you gave this woman her name. The name she took to her grave. I have a question for you."

Jonah looked up from his feet. "Hmmm?"

"What color eyes does Leah Connolly have?"



Jonah rolled down the window to toss out his cigarette butt. A passing car shoved wind into his face. He rolled up the window again, lit another cigarette, hit the emergency blinkers, and got out of the car. The air was cold, the sky was black, the lights from the passing cars were white and red and yellow.

And Leah Connolly's eyes were transparent blue.

Last edited by masterofNone : 11-22-2002 at 06:45 PM.
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Old 11-23-2002, 01:01 AM   #4
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"Holy hell Leah, you look like shit. What the hell happened?" Bebe sat in the driver's seat with her neck craned over to get a better peek at her older sister. Leah winced, half from the huge protuberance on her face, half from the fetid words slipping their way in her head.

“I know I didn’t teach you those words. I’m pretty sure mom didn’t.”

“You have a friggin sirloin on your face, and I’m not allowed to be shocked? Chrissake Leah, what the hell happened?”

“I own a bar and I’ve never even uttered God’s name in vain. I’m around it all day and I still don’t talk like that. Where did you get that?!” Leah pulled herself up into the sleek, black Jeep Cherokee with her free hand and pulled the door closed. She tucked her seatbelt in right and tried to get a good look in the eyes of the sister she had all but abandoned. Their breeding was very deliberate, cherry brown hair, straight as stone, crooked noses, cool blue eyes that reflected light more than they took in, small rosebud lips. Bebe was no exception to the rule, for certain. Mrs. Connelly had been very particular about her husband, about his ambitions, his breeding, their roles in the children’s lives. With the exception of Leah’s prominent cries for attention, they were the perfect family.

Leah sat back in the bucket seat and started twirling her fried hair between her fingers. The black dye was running dry and her roots were starting to peek again. Her thoughts drifted to maybe, maybe not. “I should get all this cut off.”

Bebe looked ahead at the road, “Yeah. It’s about time. Mom would pass out cold if you did. Dad would probably piss himself. What happened?”

“Ugh. Well…last night at Lola’s, I made the last call, and this sweet old lady, who was definitely not in the shape to drive, whipped out the keys to her Lincoln Towncar. I offered to call her a cab, but she refused. She had been downing straight Jack all night and I knew she was a danger to herself and others. Well, I called the cab, and while it was on it’s way, I tried to keep her in eye’s view the whole time. Anyway, when the cab got around, I tried to talk her into it. I told her she needed to hand me her keys and step in the cab, but she would have none of it. So…stupid me, I went to grab the keys, and her purse went flying. Next thing I know, I’m waking up back in the bar. Poor Tricia saw the entire thing go down, somehow got the old lady in the cab, and got me back in the bar and sat me up in one of the booths with a big rag fulla ice. This is the result of one of those pent-up frustrated housewives. I see it all the time…only this one was a little older.”

Leah nearly jumped out of her skin as her sister started guffawing. “Oh gawd! That’s hilarious. I mean, sorry hon, but damn! That’s the kinda thing you write down and send into Reader’s Digest or something. I could sure go for a cigarette.”

“Aren’t you pregnant?”

“Lola, lighten up.”
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Old 11-27-2002, 12:40 AM   #5
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"phonebook, Jerry, talk." Jonah muttered to himself as he navigate through the cell phone's arcane glowing LED screens. He was not comfortable with technology. Not like Jerry. Jerry had her life programmed into her Treo phone/PDA combo marvel. She could, in a moment, tell you her average gas milage for the last six months, find directions to a fine Thai restaurant, and remind you of your mothers birthday. Jonah had trouble using a mechanical pencil. He listened tentatively as the phone reached across Boston to the Waterston's dinner party to find Jerry's phone tucked neatly into her fashionable purse. He had made his excuses to Ben Waterston after making the appointment with Sydney. Ben was a good man even if he was the most materialistic man in New England. If Ben was not married to his trophy wife Lara, Jerry would have left Jonah years ago. As Jonah traced the little soap opera organization chart in his head, Jerry answered the phone.

"Hello, where are you?" She said, flaunting her caller ID.

"Well, that's a funny thing..." Jonah began as he leaned against his fender.

"Is that traffic I hear? Where are you?" Her voice was getting an edge he never liked.

"The MG's muffler fell off on the 9. Made a beautiful fireworks display... " Jonah trailed off.

"I'm not picking you up."

"Jerry."

"I'm not. I'm not picking you up." he could hear her walk from a public space, with the ambience of people drinking and laughing, to a private space like a bathroom. He was in for it now. "Jonah, I've been telling you for 2 years to get rid of that damn thing. 'It's a classic, Jerry!' 'It's like driving history, Jerry!' Well now look at you. I'm not picking you up."

"Well, that's damn charitable of you." for a moment he let the silence just hang there between them. "How's the party?"

"I have a hard time believing that you care a whole hell of alot about the party. Do you know how humiliating it is to go to a friends party alone when you've been seeing someone as long as we have."

"You were the one..." Jonah started to go into fight mode and thought better of it. Besides they both knew the fight dialogue so well at this point he only had to start a sentence... she would finish it on her own.

"Yes I am the one. I'm the one putting the period on the end of this sentence. I'm going to move back with my folks this weekend. I... I'm just so pissed at you right now I... I'm shaking. God damn it Jonah... just talking to you makes me so mad."

"I'm sorry." He closed the lid on his phone and dropped it into his jacket pocket. Well this was a fine how do you do. He laughed to himself then he leaned back against the car, threw his head back and screamed at the top of his lungs.
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Old 11-27-2002, 09:30 PM   #6
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Piper catapulted her way to the door, and once aware of the huge slab of beef on Leah’s face, proceeded to claw her way up Leah’s leg. “Ow, ow, ow, ow, OW!” Leah howled in pain and kicked the cat away from her when she felt the tiny claws detach themselves from her skin. “Piper! NO!”

“Gawddamn cat! What’s wrong with you?!” Bebe shooed the cat toward the basement staircase.

“Eh, maybe I should take this thing off my face now? I can feel the swelling going down…and I don’t want the cat to attack me again.” Leah could feel the cold slipping away from the beef and the throbbing taking a rest and sighed.

“Whatever you want. So, what’s up with you lately? How’s the bar?” Bebe unraveled her arms from her jacket and straightened out her green lambs wool sweater. Tossing her coat on the loveseat and herself on the couch, she made a big “oaf” when she landed on the cushions. “I heard from Maggie Flanagan that you were hiring a new assistant manager. Whatever happened to Troy, and why aren’t you automatically hiring Mags?”

Leah growled, “Magdalene Flanagan up to her usual, eh? That woman talks more than mom.” Leah walked into the kitchen and grabbed a plate from the cabinet, set the steak on it, and sat the plate on the floor. “I’m giving the cat the steak…anyway, about Maggie. She has to fill out the paperwork just like everyone else. Though, I likely won’t give it to her because I can’t trust her to keep her mouth shut about anything. Plus, the girl lacks passion, she doesn’t take initiative at all. Err…well, not with the bar. Besides, this’ll give her the chance to quit and start up that coffee shop she keeps romanticizing about.”

Leah sat down with her sister as the sun hit the highest peak in the sky. It felt good to talk to Bebe about her life, her day. There was so much she missed about having a second someone to share the space with, and in the old house, there was so much space to fill. Piper took a whiff of the sirloin and snubbed it. The girls talked on until the sun got to the business of setting.

“So, Lola, counseling? Is he hot?!” Bebe as always was mercilessly without tact and got straight to the heart of the matter.

Leah blushed. “Bebe! He’s a headshrinker! Not to mention he’s not exactly childlike. Pushin up daisies is more like it…” Leah’s split second imagery snapped to the doc and his bushy eyebrows.

“Awww…come on Lola. You and I both know you’re a sucker for the older ones. You don’t want a boyfriend, you want a father figure. So, which phase are you caught in, eleventh grade Mr. Trumbly, or Harrison Ford circa Seven Days Seven Nights?”

“Bebe! Geeze…oh man. I forgot all about Mr. Trumbly. I must’ve been the only eleventh grader in the history of the world to leave secret admirer letters on a fifty year old man’s desk.”

“At least you had good taste. He did look like Richard Gere.”
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Old 12-04-2002, 09:08 PM   #7
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He leaned into the door and it swung in to bathe him in the smell of stale beer, fried food, (maybe a little urine and vomit under there, somewhere) and decades of cigarette smoke. Billiard balls clacking together. The laughter of a rheumy, toothless old portagee. A proud waitress scolding her customer's paltry tip. Jonah let this place envelop him like a hug. He inhaled and knew that smell was going to cling to his wool overcoat for the next week or so, and that was just fine by him. He waded through the working class to the bar. Before he earned his degree, this was where he had spent his time. In his mind he drew a split screen image of the scene before him and the stuffy dinner party he was missing. The contrast was telling. This was where he was trying to go. He was trying to go back in time.

"What year is your MG?" the tow truck driver had asked.

"It's a 74."

"74! Wow. She's not exactly in mint condition but she's a beauty," he said as he looked back at her through the rear view. In the light of a passing car Jonah caught his name, embroidered on his jacket. Oscar. Oscar smiled back at Jonah. She'll be thirty years old in what?"

"Two years."

"How long have you had her?" Oscar asked in his goofy, youthful way.

"28 years. Right off the lot."

Oscar grinned. "Bet she was a beaut' then! You don't look that old! You must've been..."

"16. I was 16. Thanks... I sure as hell feel that old."

The truck hit an MTA pothole and the MG rolled around a bit. They both looked back with concern. "She's alright. Those bumps always feel bad but you'd have to fly an airplane into that nylon webbing to make it break. 16 huh? How'd you afford that at 16? Are you.. is your family rich?"

"No." said Jonah, "my dad died. We got a big insurance settlement. I lost my dad and got an MG as a consolation prize."

Oscar nodded, not sure what to think about that.

" I guess that's a lttle weird, huh?"

Oscar looked over thoughtfully, with his face lightly covered in what looked like engine grime, and said "Mister, Since I picked you up I've been thinking 'What the hell is this swanky guy in his black overcoat and $300 shoes doing driving this old MG?' What you said clears the whole thing up."

Jonah looked at Oscar with a puzzled look.

"I mean, that's why you keep the car right? 'Cause it reminds you of your father?"

Jonah had never even thought about it before.


He manuevered to a stool at the end of the bar, slid a bowlful of peanuts to within reach, and grabbed an ashtray. He took off his coat and draped it over the stool, leaned over the bar to order a bourbon and coke from the barkeep, and looked around for a cigarette machine.

"You got a brand on the bourbon?" the young man asked.

"Rail'll be fine. Cigarettes?"

"We keep' em back here since they started crackin' down on underagers. What kind?"

"Marlboro Lights"

The keep nodded and headed to the other end of the bar. Jonah looked around. closed his eyes and felt, for all the world... at home.
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Old 12-05-2002, 04:18 PM   #8
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“So what’s up with the old guy?” Bebe’s eyes were dark and glossy with questioning. “You know you wanna tell me.”

Leah looked around the living room toward the clock on the fireplace. “Hey, it’s four-thirty. Let’s go see if we can get in to Drake’s and get me a cut and a color. I’ll have just enough time to do that, go home and change, and head off to Lola’s.”

“Are you shitting me?! No one’ll recognize you. They probably wouldn’t even let you into your own friggin bar. YEAH! Out with the old, in with the new!” Leah could see the sheer excitement on her sister’s face. It never took her much to get her off the track of any sniffing around. Bebe jumped off the couch with a bound up synergy. She grabbed her coat and keys and went all singsong. Leah pushed herself off the rocking chair and stepped over toward the fireplace. Taking in a deep breath she closed her eyes and let go of her inhibitions.

She whispered under her breath, “Here’s to living in the gauze.”

Drake’s was actually an old reverted brick schoolhouse. The sun shown through the windows, pink, with the scent of afternoon resting close to the hardwood floors, lovely. Stringy black hairs in clumps were piled around Leah’s feet. With her good eye she looked on with anticipation as she perked her ears to Bebe’s exultations of her new self. “You’re gonna love it! It looks so great, Lola! You’re gonna piss yourself, it’s so awesome!” Leah could feel the length of her hair brushing against her jaw line and feel the straight-across bangs itching her forehead. She knew it was definitely going to be her, however she was a little skeptical about “out with the old.” Luckily Drake’s had been slow moving and had plenty of time for her. Tony Drake himself had enough time to knock her head around in his hands.

She could feel the swivel, cutting chair moving under her. Bebe gasped in delight as she saw Leah’s eyes gape out of her head. Before her was the family cherry brown hair. More than she’d ever felt a connection to the girl giggling behind her, Leah knew that she was a part of something bigger than she’d ever remembered feeling. Tears overwhelmed her, threatening to break. Closing her eyes, Leah swore she could feel everything around her go gauzy, misty.

The Cherokee pulled up in front of Lola’s with a mammoth stop. Leah pushed herself out of the jeep and leapt to the ground. “Bye Lola! See ya tomorrow. Knock ‘em shitless!” With that, the Cherokee purred away. Leah shrugged her coat off and shook her hair loose. She touched her purple face with cold fingers and coughed, it was soft and tender. Leah made a note to go directly to her desk and find the Motrin. She pushed past the thick glass doors, and her eyes went to the clock above her office door. Five till seven…right on time.

“Maggie, hon, how was that shipment this morning?” Leah called out as the doors slammed shut behind her. The bright-eyed little redhead fumed in front of her.

“There were two cases of Jose, busted. The guy was a total prick about it, but I got him to give me two new cases. Hey…what’s with the shiner?” Leah went to her office, shut the door up, and threw her coat on the back of the door. Going to the drawers, she fished for her bottle of Motrin and she grabbed a few. Sighing she stepped back out into the lusty must of the large warehouse bar. Scooting behind the bar she grabbed a tumbler and filled it to the brim with water. Leah popped the pills and downed the glass, with an “ungh” she took a deep breath.

“The shiner?”

“Ugh, hurts worse than Hell, but that’s just a guess.” Leah looked at the familiar voice and choked.
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Old 12-05-2002, 04:24 PM   #9
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continued in chapter 3....
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